"How will our loved one come out of this?" After an accident that results in severe traumatic brain injury (sTBI), the answer to this simple question can change everything for a family.

The latest study carried out by Elaine deGuise, PhD, Joanne Leblanc, MOA, Mitra Feyz, MScPs, and clinicians of the Traumatic Brain Injury Program for Adults at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), Montreal, describes effective tools for providing an objective answer to the question almost as soon as patients leave intensive care. The study was published recently in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation.

When patients with a sTBI leave acute care hospitals (generally between 20 to 29 days after the accident), they undergo standard tests to assess their overall level of functioning and to orient them to appropriate resources to optimize their recovery. The study shows their results can also be used to predict the future development of the patient’s general condition. The tests used in the study include the GOS-E (Extended Glasgow Outcome Scale), the NRS-R (Neurobehavioral Rating Scale-Revised), and the FIM (Functional Independence Measure).

The study was based on the follow up of 46 patients from 2 to 5 years after an accident that led to a sTBI. The patients took the GOS-E, NRS-R, and FIM tests again for the study. Researchers compared their results with those from the same tests performed when the patients were discharged from the acute-care hospital.

The researchers found patients’ physical function and ability to perform daily tasks had improved over time. However, their cognitive and emotional faculties did not develop to the same extent.

"These cognitive and emotional deficiencies can have major consequences: most of our patients could not keep the same job after their accidents," says Feyz. "This leads to other psychosocial problems that often result in psychological vulnerability. Out of all the patients observed in this study, 52% presented depressive or anxiety disorders 2 to 5 years after the trauma."

The effects of a serious accident that leads to a sTBI are not limited to patients alone: their friends and family members, as well as the entire health care system, are also affected, which has emotional and financial consequences.

deGuise is neuropsychologyist at the McGill University Health Center, and works at the Traumatic Brain Injury Program of the Montreal General Hospital at the MUHC. Leblanc is a speech-language pathologist in the Traumatic Brain Injury Program for Adults at the Montreal General Hospital of the MUHC. Feyz is the administrative head of the Adult Neurotrauma Program at the Montreal General Hospital of the MUHC.

[Source: Eureka Alert]